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Improved receiving corps key to UConn football’s recent offensive success

The Huskies have a number of guys stepping up in the passing game.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

After a period of early-season adjustment, UConn football’s passing offense is finally starting to show the signs of improvement promised by the coaching staff coming out of fall camp.

Through the first four games of the season, the Huskies’ offense — specifically their passing attack — looked closer to their dismal 2022 form than fans might have hoped.

Initial starter Joseph Fagnano and Ta’quan Roberson, drafted in to replace him after injury, combined to complete just 51.3% of their passes for under 170 yards per game in the first quarter of the season. But Roberson has turned up over the last two weeks, completing 38 of 51 passes for 470 yards and four touchdowns. The Penn State transfer has taken care of the ball extremely well all year on top of that, with a stellar 1.41% interception rate over 141 attempts.

Beyond the raw passing stats, the initial impression of the offense is one that’s finally opened up. Roberson is completing more passes down the sidelines and over the middle of the field into tight coverage, including this throw on a corner route to Kevens Clercius against Rice.

In his second season with the Huskies, tight end Justin Joly has emerged as a weapon on the offensive side of the ball, leading the Huskies in receiving yards with 291 and tied for the lead with 23 receptions.

Functioning more like a big-bodied receiver than a tight end, Joly uses his supreme strength and athleticism to present a matchup issue for opposing teams — linebackers are too slow to cover him, and he can win one-on-one physical battles over smaller defensive backs.

After a period of adjustment, Delaware transfer Buckman currently has 261 receiving yards on 22 receptions in 2023 and has emerged at the FBS level as a sure-handed pass-catcher, catching 13 of 16 targets within ten yards of the line of scrimmage.

Cam Ross’ return from years of injury has also given the Huskies a needed boost out wide. His speed gives the Huskies a threat to take it to the house on every play, easily breaking out of double coverage in his long touchdown at Rice, where he provided a window for Roberson to fit the ball into.

New Mexico State transfer Geordon Porter has also helped out the Huskies’ passing attack, with 10 receptions for 101 yards through the air and a touchdown. He’s a strong open-field runner and Roberson has hit Porter in multiple short or screen passes in addition to some WR runs. In contrast to 2022, UConn has plenty of passing options to look to as they make their offense hum.

After the bye week, the Huskies will test their new-look passing offense against South Florida. The Bulls are No. 112 in the nation in passing defense, allowing 275 yards per game in the air. UConn’s offense has every opportunity to continue its newfound success in the passing attack, and if the points continue to come, the Huskies have a good chance at salvaging their season.